In order to hold an earlier by-election after its general election failed to attract enough candidates to fill all executive and board seats, the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) Board of Directors voted to suspend a bylaw to shorten its elections nomination period in an emergency online meeting on March 24.
The board approved the schedule of the UTSU’s Elections and Referenda Committee (ERC) for the union’s spring by-election. The nomination period will open on April 1 and close on April 5, campaigning will be from April 8–12, and voting will take place from April 13–15.
The union’s elections this year have seen the fewest candidates in recent history, with only seven of 28 directors winning seats on the board and three of seven executive positions being filled.
To run by-elections on the ERC’s schedule, the board voted to suspend Bylaw VI.5.b.i. According to the bylaw, the union must give notice of a by-election at least 14 days before the start of its nomination period. The union suspended the bylaw in order to give a seven-day notice ahead of the new nomination period.
Innis College Director and Vice-President External-elect Lucas Granger wrote to The Varsity criticizing the process of the emergency meeting. “I find it sad that the meeting couldn’t have waited until the end of the election period as to include more of the board of directors.”
Board members running in the union’s elections were required to take a leave of absence. This means that the six current directors who ran in the election could not attend this emergency meeting, as it was during the voting period.
“Many of us were on leaves of absence… I believe we could have added valuable input on the situation,” Granger wrote.
In response to Granger’s comments, outgoing UTSU Vice-President Operations Tyler Biswurm wrote to The Varsity that a delay of the emergency meeting “even by a day would have had unreasonably negative consequences,” by reducing the timeframe for prospective candidates and voters to plan for the by-election.
Biswurm further wrote that, despite the meeting excluding directors running in the winter election, “the meeting’s online session did not significantly impact attendance. Even with multiple directors on leave, attendance numbers for Sunday evening’s board meeting were on par with levels observed at other emergency meetings of the board.”